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Slug Solutions for NW Gardens

As anyone who gardens in the Pacific Northwest knows, slugs are little thieves who slither in at night to eat off the leaves and fruit from our favorite garden plants. You can't prevent them from appearing, but happily, there are environmentally friendly ways to rid your garden of these repulsive little garden predators. Here are a few of the most effective:

Traps and Lures
Put a tablespoon or two of cornmeal in a jar and lay it on its side wherever there is slug activity. The slugs are attracted to the scent of the meal, but the texture is too harsh and kills them. Just leave the jar out overnight and in the morning you can dispose of them without harming the environment. Another popular trap is the beer trap. Believe it or not, slugs are extremely attracted to beer of any quality. Dig a hole in the ground and place a large cup or bowl into the hole. Be sure to use a receptacle with steep sides so the slugs can't crawl back out. Fill the bowl about three quarters full of beer and leave out overnight. In the morning the bowl or jar will be full of drowned slugs that can be dumped out for the birds to eat. A similar lure and trap can be made with a mixture of honey and yeast. Boil a cup of water with equal parts honey and yeast, let the mixture cool, and then place in a jar in a hole in the ground where the slugs are the worst.

Slugs are also attracted to dry cat or dog food. It doesn't harm the slugs, but allows you to lure them into a confined area, where you can dispose of them. Just grab a disposable pie pan and cut out a couple of little "doors" in the metal rim. Place it upside down over the pet food. After several hours you should find a pile of slugs. Dispose of them and set the trap for the next batch of slimy suspects.

For gardeners who don't wish to deal with drowned gastropods, the following deterrents can be extremely affective without causing an environmental ripple. Caffeine based sprays are harmless to pets, kids and plants but reduce the appetite of slugs. Spray Slug Snub or a similar product around infected areas, especially on leaves and soil surrounding any slug delicacies. Coffee grounds can also be extremely effective. Create a thick barrier of coffee grounds around the edges of your garden. The rough granules will tear up any slugs who try to cross over it and the grounds are great for your garden soil because they increase the acidity of your soil. Roses in particular thrive in soil with an acidic pH.

Salt does indeed live up to its reputation of being completely lethal to slugs by drying them up and killing them almost instantly. But use it carefully because it can also ruin the soil for your garden plants. If you want to use salt for your garden, just be sure to place some kind of barrier on the soil and sprinkle that with salt. Salt also works brilliantly around the base of planters on your porch or walkway.

The Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties provided information contained in this article. For more information or to find a qualified professional, log onto